For Erik Lindstrom, every rug is a blank canvas.
Many of the rugs he designs are abstract. Some come in beautiful shades of blue and gray and give an impression of shifting ice or floating clouds. Others mimic bark on a cedar tree or animal skin. Still others bear more traditional patterns.
"I am inspired by nature and natural elements," Lindstrom says. "And many of the rugs are inspired by photographs I have taken. They are pieces of art."
Lindstrom opened his flagship showroom, Lindstrom Rugs, on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice last November, and it's open by appointment only (call  306-8700). He's also building his own home in the neighborhood. He was attracted to Venice for its mix of sophistication, bohemian vibe and appreciation for craft — essentially the perfect place for both his headquarters and his home.
Lindstrom, the son of an architect, grew up in Washington state. When he was 4, he and his family graced the cover of Sunset magazine in the home his father designed on Bainbridge Island. "A lot of what I do is in my father's honor," he says. "He is the reason I have such an interest in design and architecture."
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest has definitely influenced his design sensibility. "The landscape, sunsets, tree formations, cloud formations, ocean, mountains and rivers become a part of you. It's all there."
Lindstrom Rugs are made in Nepal by men and women who follow hand-painted renderings, and there are very specific gender roles in the rug-making process. The women weave the rugs and the men wash, trim and bind them. "These rugs are an incredible labor of love," Lindstrom says, noting that an 8-by-10-foot rug typically takes three to five months to make. They are made from natural materials including wool, silk, hemp and linen, and typically cost $70 to $185 per square foot.
Lindstrom Rugs are customizable, and all are certified by the GoodWeave organization, which works to ensure that no child labor is used in production. Lindstrom says he is committed to the cause. "There is an ethical meaning behind buying a rug of this quality," Lindstrom says. "They are an incredible organization, and I am proud that my rugs receive their stamp of approval."
He hopes that his rugs, which are also sold through showrooms in New York and Seattle, will have lasting value.
"The designs are timeless and the goal is longevity. They are special pieces."